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Best 7 Must-Do Exercises To Get Wide Back

I want you to answer a question for me, and I want you to answer it truthfully. Do you spend nearly as much time working your back as you do your chest? If you’re like most men, the answer is probably no. But I’m here to change that. Sculpting a bigger back comes with a long list of benefits. For one, you’ll stand taller. Training your back targets common weak spots that lead to poor posture. Say goodbye to your caveman hunch.

And doing back exercises helps you bench press more weight. The muscles in your upper- and mid-back help stabilize your shoulder joints. The stronger and more stable your shoulders, the more weight you can lift in just about every upper-body exercise.

Your arms will grow bigger, too. The reason: Back exercises are also great for targeting your arm muscles. So whenever you bend your elbows to lift a weight—during a row or a pullup, for instance—you’re training your biceps.

You’ll also rev your metabolism when you concentrate on your back. That’s because your posterior chain contains big muscle groups. And the more muscles you train, the more calories you burn. And, finally, my favourite reason: Ladies love men with V-shaped torsos. Studies have shown that women are most drawn to muscular men whose shoulders measure 1.6 times the size of their waist. The only way to chisel a ripped torso that’s wide on top and narrow at the bottom is to do back exercises.

Now are you ready to work your back more? Get started with some of my favourite exercises that work your entire back.

#1. Straight-Arm Pulldown

The lats are best trained with shoulder extension movements that don’t allow the biceps to get involved and steal the spotlight, and movements that enable a constant tension throughout the range of motion. And the move which meets both of these criteria is the straight-arm pull-down. This greatly under-appreciated exercise is terrific at isolating the upper lats and the teres major, which is crucial for achieving maximum back width, so it really needs to be the go-to move for anyone looking to enhance his V-taper.

 #2. Dumbbell Pullover

The dumbbell pull-over is considered to be an isolation chest exercise, but in reality it’s much more than that. It’s actually a very unique exercise because it effectively works two opposing muscle groups simultaneously: the chest and the back. In addition, the main advantages of the dumbbell pull-over over the straight-arm pull-down is that it offers a greater stretch at midpoint and can be used to recruit more muscle fibers.


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 If you want a V-shaped torso, you must do pullups and chinups. They build width because they target your latissimus dorsi (a.k.a. lats), the large back muscles that wrap around the sides of the upper body just below the arms. These muscles are the ones that give the torso a wider, flared shape, and can make you appear slimmer even if you haven’t lost an inch around your middle.

Below is a list of variations of this classic back exercise from easiest to hardest. As you pull your chest to the bar during each rep, think about pulling your shoulder blades toward your back pockets. This will force you to use your upper-back muscles—as opposed to your biceps—to perform the move.

For each rep of this back exercise, you’ll start in a dead hang and then pull your chest to the bar.

#4. Seated Cable Rows


The seated cable row exercises multiple muscle groups and major joints in the body, and what’s most important for us, it effectively works the entire back by training the erector spinae in the lower and middle back, the trapezius in the upper back, the rhomboids and latissimus dorsi in the middle and the teres major in the outer back. That’s a lot of benefits from one single move, so you better take full advantage of it.

Here are some form tips for getting optimal results. First, employ an underhand grip to force your elbows to stay close to the body during the contraction which delivers a direct hit to the outer back muscles. Also, focus on getting a full stretch on every rep and make sure to pull the bar into the lower stomach to maximally engage the lats. Finally, keep your torso upright with a raised chest and maintain a slight arch in the lower back all through the movement.

#5. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Performing single-arm dumbbell rows after the compound exercises is a smart way to achieve better isolation of the upper back. Also, rowing patterns can build serious thickness by allowing you to work one side at a time and really upgrade the firing power of muscle fibers on both sides of the body.

When done properly, dumbbell rows will help you build mass in the lower and center back, so strict form is crucial. Also, choose a relatively lighter weight than what you’re used to. You should be able to bring the weight up towards the abdomen by engaging the target muscles, not by rotating the torso or driving the hips. Avoid swinging and using momentum to help you move the weights and aim to get a full stretch at the bottom and a maximum contraction at the top at every rep.


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While you can’t beat the chinup as a back exercise, the lat pulldown is also great for increasing muscle. In fact, bodybuilders swear by it. Get the most out of the move by performing the exercise at a slow, controlled tempo. You should “feel” your lats working each rep. Do 8 to 12 reps like this, making sure your upper body remains in nearly the same position from start to finish.


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Seated cable rows are a traditional upper-back exercise. Adding a pause for three seconds when the bar gets to your torso, however, can increase your gains. The pause keeps your scapular retractors working longer. Strengthening these muscles is important because a weakness can lead to unstable shoulders—and that limits your strength and muscle gains in nearly every upper-body exercise, including the bench press and arm curl. When you start this movement, pull your shoulders down and back. Otherwise, you’ll keep your shoulders elevated, which stresses the shoulder joint. Over time, this can cause your joint to become unstable, which often leads to injury.